23 APRIL 2012
After consecutive points-scoring finishes in Malaysia and China, Williams F1 endured a frustrating Bahrain Grand Prix. Both of its FW34s retired from the 57-lap race, leaving the team in seventh place in the constructors' championship. Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan gives us his thoughts on the weekend.
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:
Q: The Bahrain Grand Prix marked Williamsí 150th race with Renault engines. The partnership started in 1989; how important is it today?
MG: The Renault partnership is working very well and they are an important part of the team. We therefore look forward to continuing our long and successful relationship.
Q: How would you sum up the performance of the FW34 at the Bahrain International Circuit?
MG: Relative to the last three races our pace was not quite as strong as we had hoped for. Despite a disappointing qualifying session which was hampered with a couple of reliability issues both drivers had strong initial stints in the race and Pastor's pace was good throughout and looked set for points up until his car suffered a rear left corner problem which forced us to retire his car.
Q: How much of a handicap was the teamís lack of experience with Pirelli tyres at this venue?
MG: Of course it makes things more difficult but it was the same for all teams so in reality it was no handicap.
Q: How critical was tyre wear during the race?
MG: Physical tyre wear was not the issue, with the primary driver of race strategy being excessive lap time drop off as the degradation of the tyre increased.
Q: What was the problem with Pastorís car that caused him to spin and subsequently to retire?
MG: We are currently still investigating the failure mechanism and have brought back the damaged components for further analysis. In addition, we are studying the video footage as directly prior to the failure Vergne had contact with Pastor.
Q: You also retired Brunoís car from the race. Why was that?
MG: Bruno came on the radio with a few laps to go to complain about a bad vibration in the brake pedal which was getting progressively worse and which we could see in telemetry. We therefore decided to pit Bruno and on further investigation we retired the car.
Q: The three-day Mugello test comes next for Williams F1. What will the team aim to achieve there?
MG: This is a very important and busy test for us, during which we will test a number of short to medium term performance update components in addition to longer term development items.